The King of kings – Palm Sunday 2017

April 9, 2017 in Bible - OT - Zechariah, Church Calendar, Confession, King Jesus, Liturgy, Meditations, Postmillennialism
Zechariah 9:9-10 (NKJV)
9
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’
Have you ever been taught that while Jesus came as Savior in His first advent, He is waiting until His second to arrive as King? He is waiting, so it is said, to establish His kingdom on earth. If you have heard or even, like me, embraced that kind of thinking or, perhaps, still do, then you may have a hard time getting your mind around Palm Sunday. For Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as our King come to establish His kingdom.
Advocates of a delayed kingdom will ask: if He is entering Jerusalem as king, why doesn’t He appear very kingly? However, such a question reveals how distorted our concept of kingship has become and how we have allowed the world to define true kingship rather than allowing our Lord Jesus to define it. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, His entry into Jerusalem to suffer and to die for His people, His entry into Jerusalem to serve, is the preeminent illustration of what it means to be a king. What does it mean to be a king? It means to be humble and lowly, to be a servant, to give your life for the benefit of your people.
And it was precisely this type of King that our Lord Jesus was and is. He came to give His life a ransom for many. He came not to be served but to serve. He came as the prototype for all the kings of the earth – this is what it is to be a ruler. It is to be a servant to your people.
To our fallen nature this type of kingship can seem utterly ineffective. No king who comes to serve rather than to be served will be respected and honored; no king who acts in this way will really be successful. Rather it is those like Alexander the Great who push and prod and pursue their own glory who accomplish great things.
But the prophet Zechariah gives the lie to such thinking. Immediately after proclaiming the humility and lowliness of the coming King (the King rides on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey), Zecharaiah declares that this King will destroy warfare from the earth and will establish universal peace under His rule. How effective shall Christ’s Kingship be? His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’
So what of you leaders out there – what type of kingship have you been exercising? Whether you are a husband, a father, a mother, an employer, a foreman, a manager – what type of kingship have you practiced? Have you demanded, cajoled, manipulated, and wormed your way to the top? Or have you served and given and made yourself the least of all the servants of God? For the first shall be last and the last shall be first.

Reminded that we have been unrighteous kings and queens, demanding our own way rather than serving others, let us confess our sin to our Sovereign Lord. And, as you are able, let us kneel together as we do so. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Christmas Homily 2015

December 25, 2015 in Bible - NT - Luke, Bible - OT - Isaiah, Bible - OT - Jeremiah, Bible - OT - Zechariah, Christmas, Church History, King Jesus
The passages before us today from the prophets and from the Gospel of Luke share a common theme – the arrival of the Branch of the Line of David. Isaiah first heard God’s promise of the Branch – a king who would rule and reign in righteousness. The Branch would not be like the false shepherds in Isaiah’s day – kings who looked out only for their personal interests, pursuing personal gain at the expense of the sheep. Rather, He would be filled with the Spirit of God, filled with wisdom, knowledge, and discretion – modeling the character of God Himself. But for a time God’s people had to endure the darkness of kings like Manasseh and Amon.
Over a hundred years later, Jeremiah picked up on this same promise. Disgusted like Isaiah with the selfishness and folly of the kings of Israel he reminded his readers of God’s promise through Isaiah. One day God would raise up to David a Branch of righteousness. This king would reign and prosper, saving and protecting His people, upholding righteousness and purity in His person. But for a time God’s people had to endure the darkness of kings like Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah.
Another hundred years later, Zechariah returned to the same promise. Though Israel then lacked a king and was subject to foreign rule, God told Zechariah to set a kingly crown upon the head of the High Priest Jeshua. For the Branch would be not only Israel’s king but also her high priest. “He shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne” and, “The counsel of peace shall be between the two offices.” This priestly king would not abuse the authority granted to Him but would rule and reign in righteousness and justice, bringing light to all the world. But for a time God’s people had to endure the darkness of Persia, Greece, and Rome.
But then, over four hundred years later, an angel spoke to some shepherds. The long-promised Branch of righteousness, the Shepherd of Israel, the One who would rule and reign in justice was to be born. “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” And this would be good news not just for Israel but also for all people, for all the nations of the earth, for all the families of the earth. The light is coming, the world will change. Then glory filled the sky, the light and life of the Messiah’s rule reflected itself in the voices and faces of the angelic host as they declared that the prophecies of Isaiah and of Jeremiah and of Zechariah were coming to fruition. Praise filled the sky as the angels marveled that the mercies of God would now extend to all the peoples of the earth. Light had come!
So what do these words mean for us? Just this: the darkness of the Judaic Age has come to an end. The Judaic Age – when God’s presence was by and large limited to the land of Israel, closeted behind the veil in the Holy of Holies – the Judaic Age has passed. Now the Age of the Messiah has come – all nations have been given to Him and so the Word of Truth, the light of life, is going forth to all the nations of the earth. The Spirit of God has been poured out on the Church and is now pouring forth from her into the world bringing life and salvation in His wake. God has begun to fulfill the promises He made long ago through the prophets. He has given a King to rule and reign in Justice; He has given a High Priest to minister in the Temple. And this King, this High Priest is our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Branch from the Stem of Jesse.
It is this transition from darkness to light that we sung of just a moment ago. In the darkness of the ancient world, amidst the rot and decay of paganism, amidst the folly of apostate Judaism, came the Root and Branch of David.
Isaiah ‘twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
When half-spent was the night.
And from this Root, this Branch, planted by the hand of God, a great tree has grown which shall one day fill the entire earth.
“This Flow’r, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True Man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.”

It is the planting of this Branch, the Branch of Righteousness, which we celebrate today. The light has come – let us feast! Our King sits upon His throne – let us rejoice! Our High Priest has offered up a perfect sacrifice on our behalf and offers up prayers and petitions for us continually – let us give thanks! And let us start even now. Let us pray together:

Thou Shalt not Bear False Witness

March 30, 2014 in Bible - OT - Exodus, Bible - OT - Leviticus, Bible - OT - Zechariah, Law and Gospel, Meditations, Mosaic Law, Politics, Ten Commandments
Exodus 20:16 (NKJV)
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Martin Luther writes in his Large Catechism, “Besides our own body, our wife or husband, and our temporal property, we have one more treasure which is indispensible to us, namely, our honor and good name, for it is intolerable to live among men in public disgrace and contempt. Therefore God will not have our neighbor deprived of his reputation, honor, and character any more than of his money and possessions…”
Even as we treasure our own reputation, we are to treasure the reputation of our neighbor and beware tarnishing his good name. So what does this mean? First, it means that in courts of law, we are obliged to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. A faithful witness, Solomon declares, does not lie, but a false witness will utter lies. We are not to be influenced by another’s money, power, influence, gender, race, poverty, or position to speak anything other than the truth when summoned to do so by a lawful authority. God declares in Lev 19:15 – You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor. God reiterated this need for truth in the halls of justice through the prophet Zechariah:
These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbor; give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; and do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate, says the Lord.
When summoned to bear witness in a court of law or when summoned to sit on a jury judging our peers, our obligation in the sight of God is to tell the truth and to judge in light of the truth.
Second, not only are we forbidden to bear false witness in courts of law, we are forbidden to use our tongue to destroy the reputation of our neighbor. Leviticus 19:16 declares, You shll not go about as a talebearer among your people… God hates the one who slanders and gossips and back-bites. He delights in the truth, delights in the one who is willing to speak truth with his lips. So Paul commands us in Ephesians 4:25, Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.
Even as God is a God of truth so we are to men and women of the truth. Truthfulness is to characterize our interaction – with God and with others. So what of you? Is your life truthful? Or do you hide behind lies? Lie about others? Gossip? Slander? Malign?

Reminded of our calling to be men and women of the truth, let us confess to God that our courts and our culture have abandoned truth and embraced lies; and let us confess also that we ourselves often twist and distort the truth to serve our own ends. Let us kneel as we confess our sins to the Lord.

Behold your King!

March 24, 2013 in Bible - OT - Zechariah, King Jesus, Meditations

Zechariah 9:9-10 (NKJV)
9
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’
How often have we heard it stated in the modern church that Jesus came as Savior in His first advent but He shall come as King at His second. If you, like me, once embraced this kind of thinking or, perhaps, still do, then you may have a hard time getting your mind around the text from Zechariah and the celebration of Palm Sunday. For today is Palm Sunday, the day the Church historically has celebrated the Triumphal Entry of the Lord Jesus Christ into the city of Jerusalem – the very thing Zechariah in his prophecy anticipated. But the question is – in what sense was this entry a triumph since He didn’t really enter as a King?
But such a question reveals how distorted our concept of kingship has become and how we have allowed the world to define true kingship rather than allowing our Lord Jesus to define it. For Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, his entry into Jerusalem to suffer and to die for His people, His entry into Jerusalem to serve is the preeminent definition of what it means to be a king. What does it mean to be a king? It means to be humble and lowly, to be a servant, to give your life for the benefit of your people.
And it was precisely this type of King that our Lord Jesus was and is. He came to give his life a ransom for many. He came not to be served but to serve. He came as the prototype for all the kings of the earth – this is what it is to be a ruler.
To our fallen nature this type of kingship seems utterly foreign and ultimately useless. Such kingship, we imagine to ourselves, is utterly ineffective. No king who comes to serve rather than to be served will be respected and honored; no king who acts in this way will really be successful – will really accomplish things. Rather it is those like Alexander who push and prod and grapple for their own glory that are ultimately great and who accomplish great deeds.
But the text before us today gives the lie to such thinking. For immediately after proclaiming the humility and lowliness of the coming King – the one riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey – it declares that this very One will destroy warfare from the earth and will establish universal peace under His rule. How effective shall Christ’s Kingship be? His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’
So what of you leaders out there – what type of kingship have you been exercising? Whether you are a husband, a father, a mother, an employer, a foreman, a manager – what type of kingship have you displayed? Have you demanded, cajoled, manipulated, and wormed your way to the top? Or have you served and given and made yourself the least of all the servants of God? For the first shall be last and the last shall be first.
Reminded that we have been unrighteous kings and queens, let us kneel and let us confess our sin to our Sovereign Lord.

The Root of David

December 27, 2010 in Bible - NT - Luke, Bible - OT - Isaiah, Bible - OT - Jeremiah, Bible - OT - Zechariah, Christmas, King Jesus

Isaiah 11:1-5 (NKJV)
1 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. 3 His delight is in the fear of the Lord, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; 4 But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist.

Jeremiah 23:5-6 (NKJV)
5 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. 6 In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Zechariah 6:12-13 (NKJV)
12 Then speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, saying: “Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the Lord; 13 Yes, He shall build the temple of the Lord. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” ’

Luke 2:8-20 (NKJV)
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” 15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

The passages before us today from the prophets and from the Gospel of Luke share a common theme – the arrival of the Branch of the Line of David. The Tree of David was faltering, falling into sin repeatedly. In Isaiah the tree was diseased, in Jeremiah dying, in Zechariah nearly dead. So God promised a Branch who would be a planting from the original tree of Israel, the true fulfillment of all that which the dying tree of David’s royal line anticipated. It was Isaiah who first heard God’s promise of the Branch who would rule and reign in righteousness. He would not be like the false shepherds in Israel – looking out only for their personal interests, pursuing personal gain at the expense of the sheep. Rather, He would be filled with the Spirit of God, filled with wisdom, knowledge, and discretion – modeling the character of God Himself. But for the time being, Israel endured the darkness of kings like Manasseh and Amon.

Over a hundred years later, Jeremiah picked up on this promise. Disgusted like Isaiah with the selfishness and folly of the kings of Israel, he reminded his readers of God’s promise through Isaiah. One day God would raise up to David a Branch of righteousness. This king would reign and prosper, saving and protecting His people, upholding righteousness and purity in His person. But for the time being, Israel continued to endure the darkness of men like Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah.

Over a hundred years later, Zechariah again returned to the promise. Told by God to set a kingly crown upon the head of the High Priest Jeshua, Zechariah announced that like David, the Branch would be a Temple builder. Zechariah announced, “He shall build the temple of the Lord; Yes, He shall build the temple of the Lord.” But He would not merely build the Temple, He would serve in it, for He would be not only King but also Priest. That which King Uzziah was forbidden to do – to rule and reign not only as king but as high priest – this King would be able to do. “He shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne.” Why? Because He would not abuse the authority granted to Him but would rule and reign in righteousness and justice. As Zechariah insisted, “The counsel of peace shall be between the two offices.” But for the time being, the offices were divided and our fathers endured the darkness of Persian, Greek, Maccabbean, and Roman rule.

But then an angel spoke to some shepherds. The long-promised Branch of righteousness, the Shepherd of Israel, the One who would rule and reign in justice was to be born. “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” And this was good news not just for Israel but for all people, all the nations of the earth, all the families of the earth. The light has come, the world will change. Then glory filled the sky, the light and life of the Messiah’s rule reflected in the voices and faces of the angelic hosts as they declared that the prophecies of Isaiah and of Jeremiah and of Zechariah were coming to fruition. Praise filled the sky as the angels marveled that the mercies of God would now extend to all the peoples of the earth. The light has come!

So what do these words mean for us? Just this: the darkness of the Judaic Age has come to an end. The Judaic Age – when God’s presence was by and large limited to the land of Israel, closeted behind the veil in the Holy of Holies – the Judaic Age has passed. Now the Age of the Messiah has come – all nations have been given to Him and so the Word of Truth, the light of life, is going forth to all the nations of the earth. The Spirit of God has been poured out on the Church and is now pouring forth from her into the world bringing life and salvation in His wake. God has begun to fulfill the promises He made long ago through the prophets. He has given a King to rule and reign in Justice; He has given a High Priest to minister in the Temple. And this King, this High Priest is our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Branch from the Stem of Jesse.

It is this transition from darkness to light that we sung of just a moment ago. In the darkness of the ancient world, amidst the rot and decay of paganism, amidst the folly of apostate Judaism, came the Root and Branch of David.

Isaiah ‘twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
When half-spent was the night.

And from this Root, this Branch, planted by the hand of God, a great tree has grown which shall one day fill the entire earth.

This Flow’r, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True Man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

It is the planting of this Branch, the Branch of Righteousness, which we celebrate today. The light has come – let us feast! Our King sits upon His throne – let us rejoice! Our High Priest has offered up a perfect sacrifice on our behalf and offers up prayers and petitions for us continually – let us give thanks! And let us start even now. Let us pray together:

Lord Jesus Christ,
Your birth at Bethlehem
Draws us to kneel in wonder at heaven touching earth.
You have saved us, you have delivered us,
You have done far beyond anything we could ask or think.
Accept our heartfelt praise
As we worship you,
In harmony with the Father and the Spirit,
Our Savior and our eternal God.
Amen.

Daughters of Zion, Part Two

May 11, 2010 in Bible - OT - Zechariah, Children, Ecclesiology, Meditations

Zechariah 9:9-10 (NKJV)
9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’

Last week we began to consider the lessons which young women teach us. The first thing we learn from young women is a matter of identity: the Church collectively is called the daughter of Zion, the daughter of Jerusalem. This title reminds us that we are near to God’s heart – the special object of His affection, protection, and provision. Even as a Father delights over his precious daughter, so the Lord delights over His people. So, young women, learn from the Lord’s decision to call His people His daughter how precious and valued you are.

Today I would like us to note that our text also teaches you young women about your identity. Who are you? This is a question which we all ask others and which we all want to know about ourselves. Who am I? There are, of course, numerous answers to this question. I am the child of certain parents, belonging to a particular father and mother either by birth or by adoption. I am the resident of a specific geographical area – perhaps a city, a county, a state or more than one of these simultaneously. I am a citizen of a particular country. But of all these identities, the identities that shape us and make us who we are, the most central and important is the one mentioned in our text today: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!” Young women, when you think about yourself, when you ask yourself, “Who am I?” the first answer that God wants to come to your lips is, “I am a daughter of Zion – in other words, I belong to Zion, to Jerusalem, to the Church. I am a Christian.”

Throughout the psalms and prophets, it is this language that is used frequently to identify young women. “Let Mount Zion rejoice, Let the daughters of Judah be glad…” (Ps 48:11). “Zion hears and is glad, And the daughters of Judah rejoice because of Your judgments, O Lord” (Ps 97:8). “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem. Do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases” (Song 8:4). And even our Lord Jesus used this language, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children” (Lk 23:28).

Young women, God claims you as His own, claims you as His daughters. In the waters of baptism, He has identified you as members of His own people, as His special possession, separated out from the rest of the females in the world and devoted unto Him. You are daughters of Zion, daughters of Jerusalem, daughters of Judah, daughters of the Church.

So here’s the challenge that comes in the wake of that identity: because you are daughters of Zion, daughters of Jerusalem, the Lord summons you to act like it. You are a daughter of Zion; be a daughter of Zion. Why are you consumed with looking like the daughters of Philistia? Why are you enamored with the skimpy clothing of Pharaoh’s concubines? Why bedazzled by the glitzy glamor of Jezebel’s shrine prostitutes? Those aren’t your people, God declares to you, don’t act like they are. Be a daughter of Zion, act like your mothers in the faith – like Sarah, like Tamar, like Deborah, like Ruth, like Elizabeth, like Mary.

Reminded that we all are tempted to act like something we are not, to allow others to define who we are rather than God Himself, let us kneel and let us confess our sins to God.

Daughters of Zion, Part One

May 11, 2010 in Bible - OT - Zechariah, Children, Ecclesiology, Meditations

Zechariah 9:9-10 (NKJV)
9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’

Two weeks ago we read this passage as we celebrated the Triumphal Entry, the entry of our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem as King. Today I would like to return to this passage for a moment as we begin to consider the lessons which young women have to teach us as the body of Christ. For they do have numerous things to teach us and so we should be learning from them.

The first thing they teach us is about our own identity. Notice that Zechariah’s announcement this morning is of the arrival of the great King, the King who would bring salvation and righteousness to His people; the King who would be humble and upright, not susceptible to the injustice and corruption which were permeating Israel at the time; the King who would bring peace to Israel, delivering her from bloodshed and destruction; the King who would bring peace to all the earth. This King is, of course, our Lord Jesus the Christ.

So here’s the question: was this good news just for the young women in Israel or for all Israel? All Israel! So when Zechariah calls upon the “daughter of Zion” to rejoice, whom is he urging to respond in this way? All Israel. Notice, therefore, that all the inhabitants of Jerusalem collectively are called the daughter of Zion, the daughter of Jerusalem. Men, women, young men, young women, children – all are identified as the daughter of Zion. Indeed, this is a common figure of speech throughout the prophets. Why? Why are the inhabitants of Jerusalem collectively referred to as the daughter of Zion? Because, as any father should be able to tell you, daughters are our special objects of affection, protection, and provision. As glorious and important as sons are – they’ve got to grow up, become men, carry on the family name – daughters are much more special, much closer to our heart.

God calls the inhabitants of Jerusalem collectively “his daughter” to indicate how much He loves them, and how strong is His intention to provide for them and to protect them at the hands of the coming King. Notice how this is the heart of Zechariah’s call to rejoice. Rejoice, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem, for your King is coming to you, coming to protect you, coming to provide for you, coming to secure your favor and see you cared for.

So daughters – learn from Zechariah today how much you are beloved: how much you are beloved by your earthly father; but second, how much more you are beloved by Your heavenly Father. Even if your earthly father fails to love you as he ought, God never will. And He identifies you as a daughter of Zion, His daughter, to assure you of His care, His provision, His protection. And all you inhabitants of Jerusalem, you daughter of Zion, call to mind the Lord’s great love for you and His determination to provide for us and protect us. Rejoice, O daughter of Zion; Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem, for Your King has come to You and shall come yet again.

Reminded that we have failed to trust God’s love, provision, and protection of us and have instead sought out the affection of other lovers, other providers, let us kneel and confess our sin to God.

Playing in the Streets

December 1, 2009 in Bible - OT - Zechariah, Children, Covenantal Living, Meditations

Zechariah 8:3-5 (NKJV)
3 “Thus says the Lord: ‘I will return to Zion, And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, The Mountain of the Lord of hosts, The Holy Mountain.’ 4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Old men and old women shall again sit In the streets of Jerusalem, Each one with his staff in his hand Because of great age. 5 The streets of the city Shall be full of boys and girls Playing in its streets.’

Two weeks ago we remarked that one of the lessons taught by toddlers is the universality of sin and foolishness. Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. Consequently, as parents we need to be diligent to train our children so that the foolishness is driven out and wisdom is put in its place. Permissive parenting, we saw, is no biblical virtue.

Our text today reminds us that foolishness is not the same as childish joy and fun. Driving foolishness from the hearts of our children does not mean that we need to make them into dour, sour, grumpy kill-joys. Zechariah was prophesying at a time when Jerusalem was in ruins, at the beginning stages of being rebuilt. There was much pain and sorrow, much labor and toil. So Zechariah comforts the people and provides for them hope for the future. What will Jerusalem be like in days to come? In what way will God bless the city? One of the things that Zechariah promises is that once again there will be boys and girls playing in the streets – and that this will be something pleasing to God.

So children, note today that God loves your play, loves your joy, loves your delight, your freedom. What doesn’t please him is when you play in such a way that you steal others’ delight, others’ joy. And notice another thing, children. Just as Zechariah promises that children will be playing in the streets, he promises that the old men and women will be sitting around enjoying the scene. So don’t grow impatient when older folks don’t run quite as much as you.

And parents, note today that God loves joy and rejoicing even while he hates foolishness. Learn, like your Heavenly Father, to distinguish the two. Do not discipline your children when they are appropriately exuberant and joyful; discipline them when they are sinful. Likewise, the members of our community who no longer have children, who like to sit around and have serious conversation – enjoy the joy of the young ones in our midst and delight that they reveal the playfulness of our God.

Reminded that our Lord loves to see children playing and promises to bestow this gift upon His people as they repent and acknowledge His authority, let us kneel and seek His forgiveness.

Palm Sunday

March 16, 2008 in Bible - OT - Zechariah, King Jesus, Meditations

Zechariah 9:9-10 (NKJV)9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’

How often have we heard it stated in the modern church that Jesus came as Savior in His first advent but He shall come as King at His second. If you, like me, once embraced this kind of thinking or, perhaps, still do, then you may have a hard time getting your mind around the text from Zechariah and the celebration of Palm Sunday. For today is Palm Sunday, the day the Church historically has celebrated the Triumphal Entry of the Lord Jesus Christ into the city of Jerusalem – the very thing Zechariah in his prophecy anticipated. But the question is – in what sense was this entry a triumph since He didn’t really enter as a King?

But such a question reveals how distorted our concept of kingship has become and how we have allowed the world to define true kingship rather than allowing our Lord Jesus to define it. For Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, his entry into Jerusalem to suffer and to die for His people, His entry into Jerusalem to serve is the preeminent definition of what it means to be a king. What does it mean to be a king? It means to be humble and lowly, to be a servant, to give your life for the benefit of your people.

And it was precisely this type of King that our Lord Jesus was and is. He came to give his life a ransom for many. He came not to be served but to serve. He came as the prototype for all the kings of the earth – this is what it is to be a ruler.

To our fallen nature this type of kingship seems utterly foreign and ultimately useless. Such kingship, we imagine to ourselves, is utterly ineffective. No king who comes to serve rather than to be served will be respected and honored; no king who acts in this way will really be successful – will really accomplish things. Rather it is those like Alexander who push and prod and grapple for their own glory that are ultimately great and who accomplish great deeds.

But the text before us today gives the lie to such thinking. For immediately after proclaiming the humility and lowliness of the coming King – the one riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey – it declares that this very One will destroy warfare from the earth and will establish universal peace under His rule. How effective shall Christ’s Kingship be? His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’

So what of you leaders out there – what type of kingship have you been exercising? Whether you are a husband, a father, a mother, an employer, a foreman, a manager – what type of kingship have you displayed? Have you demanded, cajoled, manipulated, and wormed your way to the top? Or have you served and given and made yourself the least of all the servants of God? For the first shall be last and the last shall be first.

Reminded that we have been unrighteous kings and queens, let us kneel and let us confess our sin to our Sovereign Lord.